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Remembering Larry Allen: Cowboys players, coaches lament death of Hall of Fame offensive lineman

FRISCO, Texas — Tuesday presented current Dallas Cowboys coaches and players their first opportunity to express their emotions and thoughts about the “sudden” death of Pro Football Hall of Fame offensive lineman Larry Allen, who died while on a family vacation in Mexico on Sunday.ย 

Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy made sure to start the team’s mandatory minicamp off with a video of Allen during a morning team meeting.ย 

“Obviously a huge loss for the Cowboys and everybody,” McCarthy said. “Not knowing Larry, I just remember him as a great player, a Hall of Fame player. Just to hear the stories being told about him the last day and a half, it’s been really cool. We actually had a video in honor of him today in our team meeting. I just wanted to make sure I had the opportunity to speak on the passing of Larry Allen.”

New defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer was on Dallas coaching staffs from the beginning to the end of Allen’s Cowboys career from 1994-2005 in various roles as an assistant coach (1994), defensive backs coach (1995-1999) and defensive coordinator (2000-2006).

“I talked to the team today. Larry and I came into the league together. As young guys we sat in the back row with the special teams group, so I got a chance to get to know him over the years with that,” Zimmer said. “Larry was obviously a great player, 700-pound bench press, 11 Pro Bowls. He was a guy that really didn’t say much, but he had a very infectious laugh. It’s a sad day that we lost him.” ย 

Zimmer recalled seeing opposing teams’ injury reports filled with surprise inactive defensive players, which the Cowboys coaching staff would attribute to players around the league not wanting to face Allen.

“The night before a game, we would come in and so-and-so wouldn’t be playing. They would say he’s got the ‘Larry Allen flu.’ There weren’t very many people who wanted to play against him. It’s a sad day that we lost him. We actually showed a video of him today, and I actually got a little teared up with it.”

Allen, an 11-time Pro Bowler and six-time First Team All-Pro,ย  and current Cowboys right guard Zack Martin, a nine-time Pro Bowler and seven-time First Team All-Pro, built a relationship with each other at the in Martin’s career as two of Dallas’ best linemen ever.ย 

“When you say offensive line and the NFL together, Larry Allen is, if not the guy, one of the top couple of guys you think of in the history of our league,” Martin said. “He’s meant a lot to this organization and to offensive linemen everywhere. … I was fortunate to have a little bit of interaction with him at training camp in my rookie year. He would shoot me some texts before games. Obviously, thoughts are with his family. I got to play with his son for a year at training camp (Larry III), so thoughts with his them.”

The highlight reel McCarthy played of Allen in front of the team Tuesday morning left Martin and current players in awe.

“We played a reel this morning in the team meeting of just him pulling and taking guys out,” Martin said. “He did it for a long time too. Unbelievable player, and our thoughts are with his family.”

Cowboys COO and EVP Stephen Jones compared current Dallas Pro Bowl left guard Tyler Smith to Allen back in February, a comparison Smith discussed just days before Allen’s passing.ย 

“My thoughts and prayers go to the family,” fellow left guard Tyler Smith said. “Nobody was expecting it. … He was still young. Life is short. Last week y’all were asking me a question about him, and I was talking about him a little bit. I had never actually met him in real life yet. I was thinking about that earlier and talking with my mom. … Life is short. things happen. It’s definitely prayers for the family. A big loss in the football world and for his people, for sure.”

“It’s huge for sure,” Smith said on May 30 when asked about Jones comparing him to Allen. “Just knowing Larry, everything he did and how great he was. … Just a dawg. I’ve seen the tape. Just extremely athletic. … One of the best pulling guards to probably ever play in the NFL. Not many people are doing people like that anymore. … It’s my mission to be the best me I can be. Be the best Tyler Smith I can be every single day. Improve, stay hungry, never lose that passion. Just continue to get better.”

Smith also takes a tremendous amount of pride in wearing Allen’s No. 73, carrying on a tradition of the Cowboys bestowing current players with legendary numbers like wide receiver CeeDee Lamb wearing No. 88.

“I’ve always taken pride in it,” Smith said. “It really started the day my name was called (in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft). Just coming in here, contributing to the room. Taking care of the culture the right way. Being the best that I can possibly be. Honoring those that have sacrificed for me and honoring those that have sacrificed before me. It’s always huge for me. I will continue to wear it well for sure.”

Current Cowboys assistant defensive line coach Greg Ellis, Dallas’ eighth overall pick in the 1998 NFL Draft who played 11 of his 12 seasons with the Cowboys from 1998-2008, credited Allen for a welcome to the NFL moment in training camp in 1998 where he knocked Ellis off the football immediately at the line of scrimmage. Ellis said he had never been knocked off the ball the way Allen did to him when he was high school or college.ย 

“Huge, huge loss,” Ellis said of Allen. … “It’s deep hurt. As a rookie, I didn’t know a lot about Larry because he was still a young player, but I quickly learned a lot about him. You talk about somebody that left his mark on the NFL, he obviously did that.” ย 

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Author: Garrett Podell
June 5, 2024 | 10:50 am

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